Chloe Moretz may only be 14 years old, but she's already had a career that most actresses would die for. From 'The Amnityville Horror' to 'Bolt' to '(500) Days of Summer' to her breakout performances in 'Kick-Ass' and 'Let Me In,' Moretz has excelled in a variety of genres -- which is far from an accident. "I go from drama to comedy to horror and thrillers," she told Moviefone at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Manhattan on Sunday morning. "People can see me in every different light and I'm not just one typecast kind of actress." That chameleon streak came in handy during her audition for 'Hugo,' since she was able to trick director Martin Scorsese into thinking she was English.
In 'Hugo,' Moretz plays Isabelle, a precocious young orphan who befriends the titular Hugo (Asa Butterfield), a fellow orphan trying to solve a mystery that his father left behind: making a broken automaton work. Isabelle holds the key, literally, to that mystery, as well as one involving her guardian, Papa Georges (Sir Ben Kingsley). Moretz spoke to Moviefone about her performance in 'Hugo,' working with "Marty" Scorsese, the People's Choice Awards, and why Tim Burton fans should be quite excited about the upcoming film, 'Dark Shadows.'
I read in another interview that you fooled Martin Scorsese in the audition with your British accent. Once you got the part, was there any concern about keeping that accent up for the length of the shoot, and not just the audition?
It was genuinely nerve-wracking thinking that not only do you have to meet Marty, but you have to make him believe you're British -- because that's all he knows of me. Thinking that I was an actual British actress. When I went in there and did the full accent -- it was funny, my accent was almost exact to Asa Butterfield's. So it was really simple to fool him because it sounded just like Asa. So, he totally didn't think about it. When I broke out of the accent and went back to American at the end of the audition, he was like, "Oh, what? You're American!" I was like, "I am American!" He was like, "You fooled me." I was like, "I did fool you."
And then you "fooled" him for the rest of the shoot.
Once you get it, it's easy, but it's still a lot of hard work. I had to do it every day.
You've worked with a number of great directors in your young career: Scorsese, Tim Burton, Marc Webb, Matthew Vaughn. When you're picking projects, does the director outweigh everything else?
It's a lot of stuff. I mainly look at the script. If I like the character and I feel like I can do the character, I'll do it. No matter how big the director is, no matter how amazing the director is, if I don't like the character -- if I can succeed in the character -- then I won't do it. You don't want to be bad, especially in a movie with a huge director.
That's a term that certainly describes Scorsese.
I'm really blessed to be able to do a movie with Marty, in my career at all, much less at 13 or 14. It's really special to be able to do this, because it was something of a learning curve for me. I not only grew as an actor, but I grew in my knowledge of film history. Which I absolutely loved. I had an amazing time learning from Marty about it. I had a really incredible. It was really magical.
What old films did he show you? What was your takeaway from them?
I love Audrey Hepburn, and that was the main thing I based this character off: Audrey. So he showed me 'Roman Holiday,' 'Funny Face,' and a bunch of her classics. It was really what I based Isabelle off of -- that fun girl, kinda naive but sweet and full of wonderment. She has a huge imagination and always wants to go on an adventure. That's kinda what I tried to do -- be that Audrey Hepburn. That person who tries to light up the screen. But without trying. Effortless.
Beyond just the classic films, you also get to share the screen with some all-time acting talents like Ben Kingsley and Helen McCrory. What was the biggest thing you learned from them?
I took away so many things from working with them, especially Sir Ben, because he was very method. He stayed in character almost the whole time. It was really helpful to Asa and I, not only working with Helen and Ben, because they were so method, but because they just knew so much about acting. To watch them perform ... not many people get to do that. Not many people get to be in the same scene as Sir Ben and Helen and Frances de la Tour, and all these amazing actors and actresses. It was really a special experience being on a film with such beautiful Oscar winners. It's something I'll always remember.
What do you think of method acting? Is that something you can see attempting for a future performance?
Maybe. I think whatever gets you into character. Whatever keeps you in character. Whatever helps you get to that spot to act the best that you can.
I loved when you were on '30 Rock.' Do you want to do more comedy like that?
I do some comedy, like '30 Rock' and stuff, but I try to do a wide range of acting. I go from drama to comedy to horror and thrillers. Everything. That's what I try and do -- that's what we try to think about my career, my brother, Trevor, and my mom. We try and think about that. For instance when I did 'Hugo,' it was: What should I do next? After 'Hugo,' I went to do 'Dark Shadows,' which is totally two bipolar things, which I love. People can see me in every different light and I'm not just one typecast kind of actress.
You sound excited about 'Dark Shadows.'
Tim Burton is my dream director to work with.
What Tim Burton movies do you love?
'Beetlejuice,' 'Edward Scissorhands,' 'Sleepy Hollow,' 'A Nightmare Before Christmas.' I love Tim Burton. I think he's got one of the most brilliant minds of any director out there, along with Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino and Darren Aronfosky. It's always been a dream to work with him. When he called us up and he wanted me to do the movie with him, I was absolutely, hands-down, "Of course I'll do the movie with you Tim Burton! You didn't even have to ask!" We had a really beautiful time doing that movie. It's really interesting, it's a very funny movie. I can't really say anything about it, but it's Tim Burton's fine line. He straddles that camp and drama, perfectly. He goes back to his roots. He goes back to 'Beetlejuice' and 'Edward Scissorhands.' What he's good at. What he's really good at.
I'm sure that will please Tim Burton fans.
They'll be really happy. It's back to his roots, for sure.
You mention those Burton films -- what were the Scorsese films you were familiar with?
'Aviator,' 'Gangs of New York,' 'Raging Bull.' I had only seen 'Aviator' when I was doing the film, but afterwards I have seen more.
I guess the rest of them might be a little too adult-themed. Is there one you haven't seen that you're looking forward to watching one day?
Definitely. I'm really looking forward to seeing 'Taxi Driver' one day. That's one.
I loved that photo shoot you did in Harper's.
That was a fun shoot. I had a really good time doing that. They had a whole homage to Marty.
You're one of the five finalists for the Favorite Movie Star Under 25 People's Choice Award. It's you and Emma Watson, Rupert Grint...
It's like Tom Felton, Daniel Radcliffe. It's Harry Potter against me. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna lose to Harry Potter, but that's OK. I don't mind. At least I got nominated.
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